newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: February, 2019

I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would; a review of “The Theft of America’s Soul”

This is a review of The Theft of America’s Soul by Phil Robertson.

51qexb9mvrl._sx328_bo1204203200_

I read Phil Robertson’s previous book, Happy, Happy, Happy! during the zenith of the Duck Dynasty craze. That book was okay. Fast forward five years after his second book, UnPHILtered (which I did not read), and now comes The Theft of America’s Soul. Curious to see what Robertson might have to say after the excitement of the Duck Dynasty frenzy has settled, I picked up the book. I read it in under two days; I could have read it in one day but life happens.

Woven together as a book that is one part memoir, one commentary on current events, and one part evangelical Christian apologetics, The Theft of America’s Soul fills in some of the holes in Phil Robertson’s life created in Robertson’s previous two books. But those gaps in Robertson’s story that he fills in are only the starting point, as he uses them as a Bible-centered springboard to critique what he sees as faults in the prevailing mindset of mainstream America. He calls out a need for Christian conviction and taking a stand for truth, as well as the need to stand for morality and unity. Robertson references the race riots in Ferguson, MO, the Harvey Weinstein debacle, the Las Vegas and Texas church shootings, among other events in our very recent U.S. history. But when he discusses them, it does not feel forced or contrived, but easy and conversational, the way Robertson’s tone is throughout the book.

The Theft for America’s Soul does have some parts where the pace seems to slow down. Chapter 6 on virtue, 8 on unity, and 9 on faith in the workplace feel a little repetitive at points. That might simply be because Robertson wants to make sure that his readers haven’t missed the points he is trying to emphasize. But if you’re like me, you catch them the first time.

On the whole, The Theft of America’s Soul is a respectable read. If you are a person of faith, you will undoubtedly feel encouraged and maybe even inspired. If you are not, this book will help you perhaps better understand a person who the media -and maybe even Phil himself- has painted as a backwoods “river rat.” In either case, the potential reader is bound to get something out of this book.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to give it a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

Advertisements

Technology makes life. Easier?

As I am staring at the screen trying to figure out what to write, a red box popped up on the monitor. It said, “You haven’t written anything yet!” Thanks for the reminder. Is this supposed to inspire me by pressuring me?

I think to all the different times that Siri has sent the wrong message in talk-to-text messages (“I put the bacon in the frying pans” vs. “I put the baking in the frying pants”).

Earlier this week I set the coffee maker before going to bed. When I woke up at 5 the next morning and walked downstairs, the coffee pot had turned off three hours ago. I was unaware that the coffee maker had lost power earlier in the day, and while the clock had been reset, the brew timer had not.

And then, any time my phone’s batter percentage drops below 50 percent, I experience a level of soft panic and worry irrationally that my phone will not be able to last until I get it on a charger.

For all the ways that technology is supposed to make life easier, it sure has its moments.

Just sayin’…

Review: Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd ed.

This is a review of the Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd Edition published by Thomas Nelson.

I am a lifelong student of the Bible, and also an individual who serves in various leadership functions in the church I attend and the school where I teach. One of the easiest ways I have found to develop personally as a leader and Christian is to read books on leadership and books on faith. The Maxwell Leadership Bible is an exceptional blending of the two book types. John C. Maxwell is a noted leader who has spent his entire life teaching leadership principles from a foundation of the Bible. Just reading the notes and articles included in this Bible is enough to know that Maxwell knows his stuff.

The edition that I have uses the New King James Version text as its foundation (Full disclosure: I really like the NKJV!). Then, throughout the text are mixed in short biographies on people of the Bible and who they demonstrate (positively or negatively) leadership traits. Also, the text includes short articles, one-page readings, and margin-inserts connected to leadership principles, as well as to the 21 Qualities of Leaders and the 21 Laws of Leadership, for which John Maxwell is known. There are an impressive amount of additional articles and leadership resources int he back of the Maxwell Leadership Bible, as well as sorted indices for where one can find features on the 21 Qualities and 21 Laws.

I like study Bibles. I like them when the supplementary materials do not distract the reader from the page. The Maxwell Leadership Bible does a good job in its layout to help prevent the reader from feeling distracted or overwhelmed. This edition also takes advantage of the Thomas Nelson Comfort Print font. That’s actually the only big noticeable difference for me between the previous edition and this one. That and the color scheme of the pages. But those two things, though small, make a surprisingly big, positive difference.

Paraphrased, John C. Maxwell writes that no matter what a person does, he or she is a leader in some capacity. The Maxwell Leadership Bible is a quality resource for anyone who identifies with the truth in that statement.

I received my copy of the Maxwell Leadership Bible for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

The Bible should be taught in public schools (and it has nothing to do with religion)

A while back, our President tweeted  supporting teaching the Bible in public schools. And just like most other tweets President Trump generates, unnecessary vitriol ensued. Some of President Trump’s comments, as well as those of some who disagree with him on the matter make it seem that they do not realize it is legal to teach the Bible as an elective in public schools (see for example page 152 of Indiana’s Department of Education’s Course Descriptions list).

Regardless of the specifics of the legality, this is one thing on which I agree with President Trump: the Bible should be taught in our public schools. But maybe not for the reasons some would think.

  1. The Bible is an historically significant book to the United States. Many of our Founding Fathers -deists, theists, and atheists alike- owned copies of the Bible. Our Presidents have quoted it in speeches. Groups of people immigrated to this continent because of it. The Bible was used as a central text in the early iterations of public and community schools. If the Bible played such a significant role in influencing this country’s foundation, why would we not consider the validity of it for for not other reason than to give students a chance to explore why and how those who helped found our country were influenced by this same book?
  2. To build on its historical import, the language of the Bible permeates the English language. Consider the following phrases:  sacrificial lamb, Damascus Road experience, David and Goliath struggle, scapegoat, to see the light, Armageddon (we had a movie called this, even!), and forbidden fruit, just to name a few. Why shouldn’t students who hear these phrases have the opportunity to learn and comprehend their origin?
  3. The Bible is a versatile text for teaching literacy. With it, one can teach genre, form, archetypes, symbolism, imagery, hero quest, allegory, personification, narrative arc, literary critique, etc.

Some have argued that to teach Biblical literature is to teach religion. I know individuals who have taught Biblical literature courses in the public school, and none of the students who weren’t already Christians did not decide to convert because of the class. If this were a valid concern, then shouldn’t we be worried about teachers reading Hansel and Gretel to young children as a way to teach them cannibalism?

Others would argue that if the Bible is taught, then schools should also offer to teach the Koran. I would agree, if one could demonstrate how it significantly shaped the United States’s language, culture, and history from its inception. Otherwise, I struggle to find logic in the argument of teaching Book A necessitates teaching Book B. That would be like insisting that if a film literature course uses the movie Citizen Kane, that same course should also use a movie like Anchorman because they are both movies. While Anchorman has done a lot for changing the comedy drama, it doesn’t hold the same level of gravitas as a film like Citizen Kane.

The Bible should not be a compulsory course which all students need to graduate, such as government. But I do think it needs to be an available option for each of them. The Bible is a book of historical and cultural import in our country and society. Maybe it is time that we as a country collectively acknowledged this fact and started studying the Bible to figure out why.

I reviewed a Bible designed for little girls.

This is a review of the International Children’s Bible- Sparkle and Change edition from Tommy Nelson. 

IMG_5981

I appreciate the beauty of the language in the King James Version, the scholarship behind the New American Standard Version, and the accessibility of the English Standard Version of the Bible. I started regularly reading a Bible well after the age where I might have benefited from a children’s Bible. For the last two months, I have used the International Children’s Bible as a part of my morning reading and looking at this from the perspective of a teacher and parent, I have been impressed with what is in this edition and its usefulness.

The way that this translation simplifies language so that young people (and even those new to the Bible as adults) is something that readers will appreciate. Consider the way that this familiar passage is presented: “The Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need” (Psalm 23:1). I pick this passage because another thing this version of the Bible does is put potentially unfamiliar words in a bold font so that the reader can know to turn to a glossary in the back of the Bible that explains that word, like “shepherd.” It also has important passages highlighted to jump out to new readers, like Psalm 23:1, for example.

While this translation does not edit out “sensitive” passages, it presents them in manner that might be easier with guidance for readers to understand, like the example of the Levite and his concubine in Judges 19-20. Instead of using the word “concubine,” the ICB uses the term “slave woman,” which is explained in the glossary that the word “concubine” and the word is described in simple terms.

This Bible is thoughtfully layed out. There are explanatory segments throughout this Bible to help new readers to understand what they are reading. Young kids, new readers, and those looking for “the simple idea” will gain a lot from this. While I am not a girl, the sequins and color scheme are bound to delight little girls- my daughter seems to enjoy it.

For a young girl who is a new reader, the International Children’s Bible: Sparkle and Change edition is a perfect choice. Even as an adult, I have been using this as part of my study time especially as a way to approach the Psalms and Old Testament from a new perspective. All around, it is a solid choice.

I received my copy of this Bible for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine solely.